It’s the stuff of nightmares for any dog owner that has left their dog in the care of another.
Sami, a two-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback-shepherd cross dog, was lost (and now found!) while being looked after last weekend.
The same day the Vancouver family dropped Sami off, they received a message from the sitter, saying Sami had escaped while in the care of his roommate.
What makes it even scarier is that the person pet sitting was not a random person on Craigslist — it was through a reputable pet-sitting app.
We’re thrilled that Sami was found and reunited with her family, though her disappearance through a pet-sitting app got us thinking about how dog owners can protect themselves, and their dogs, from ever finding themselves in situations like the above.
According to Aliya Bhatia, Founder of PawSwap App, “We trust so many apps, like Airbnb and Uber, to safely connect strangers, but it’s not the same when it comes to your dog. If a human gets in a car with a careless driver, they can easily tell the driver to stop and get out of the car. If a person enters a home on Airbnb and it isn’t as described, they can stay elsewhere. Dogs obviously can’t talk, can’t protect themselves, can’t just get up and leave.”
She believes that with any pet care services, whether it be a daycare or PawSwap, building a relationship with the pet sitter is important, if not for the dog owner, then for the dog.
“You need to know who they are, what they’re like with your dog, if you both get along, and if they’re used to looking after dogs,” Bhatia continues.
We even have a cheat sheet on our website to help sitters and owners ask the right questions and be on the same page.
It’s recommended for dog owners to carve out some time to get their pet familiar with pet-sitters (whether that be a neighbour, friend, family member, or a daycare) on their own terms.
If the dog is staying at the pet sitters home, coordinating a time to drop by is extremely important to ensure a comfortable experience with anyone new. “You want your dog to be just as comfortable as you are, and that includes getting them familiarized with your pet sitters face, voice, and scent.”
"The bottom line is: you can’t blindly trust apps, or any online services for that matter. You can’t even blindly trust offline services. What you can trust, though, are online services (including apps) that connect you with a community, and use them as an avenue to building trusting relationships over time."
So, how does one do that without feeling uncomfortable having a stranger in your home, or visiting a strangers home for the first time?
“We understand that first introductions aren’t easy,” Bhatia explains. The solution, in her option, “take the awkward element out of introductions and join dog Meet-Ups to grow your circle (or, your “Pack” as we like to call it). Whether you’re new to the community or a seasoned PawSwap member Meet-Ups give everyone, humans and dogs, a comfortable and safe environment to meet, and start building authentic relationships.”
Like many apps you know and love such as AirBnb and Uber, that safely connect strangers, PawSwap understands that apps for pet sitting aren’t exactly the same. Dogs are like children. Children that can’t talk, or protect themselves. That’s why we aren’t trying to be like these apps.
With PawSwap, members create their Pack of trusted dog owners. People that they know and trust.
Members grow their Pack by adding Friends, Neighbours, and people they've met at Meet-Ups. Sending a request to everyone you trust whenever a last minute hand is needed has never been easier.
The best part, there's no need to run out and grab cash or a bottle of wine to say thanks — members pay the favour forward with Points.